Last year's winners Queensland enter Sunday's decider at North Sydney Oval as favourites after topping the ladder with just a single two-wicket defeat across their six matches.
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NSW, however, boast the competition's leading batsman, with big-hitting opener Warner peeling off three big hundreds in just eight days as he presents a compelling case for Ashes selection.
That hot streak includes 139 against Queensland last week, while Thursday's blistering 197 in the elimination final against Victoria was the highest-ever score in Australian domestic limited overs cricket and ensured he's comfortably the leading run-getter in the tournament.
"We struggled at the start with the ball last game when Davey (Warner) got away from us," Hopes said.
"We need to nail our start a little bit better and not give him so many freebies early on and make him work a bit harder in the opening overs."
Hopes, though, said Warner's dominance of recent innings for NSW could prove to be a positive for Queensland.
"The thing is with him doing the bulk of the scoring, it means not many of the other guys have been getting much time in the middle," he said.
"Hopefully if we can get Davey out early, we can put some of the other guys under pressure, though they have other great players and a good team."
While Warner has been the shining light for NSW, fellow lefthanded Ashes hopeful Khawaja has paved the way for Queensland's success.
Former NSW batsman Khawaja has piled on 322 runs with four half-centuries, and Hopes described the Pakistan-born left-hander's form as 'exceptional'.
"I have always had a great deal of respect for Uzzy," he said.
"Now that I have seen him first hand at Queensland, and see the way he trains, I think he is set for a massive summer.
"I think people look at Uzzy and look at the way he gets out and call it lazy.
"But people forget how easily he gets to those scores.
"He was 100 per cent (certain) of getting a hundred in the last game if rain didn't intervene.
"Add that to the three 50s he already had and he is having a great tournament.
"We rely on him a lot.
"I think there are a few batsmen in Australia building for a big summer. Usman is one, Davey (Warner) is another, (Australia's India ODI tour captain) George Bailey is obviously doing well. (Victoria's) Cameron White is another."
Hopes said that being reigning champions added more incentive for the Bulls.
"We know if we play the way we have done in the past six matches, we will be there or thereabouts at the end and hopefully our experience, and knowing we have got through tight situations before, will see us through," he said.